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Malcolmson, Robert W.

Kingston, McGill-Queen's University Press, c1985. 152pp. paper, ISBN 0-7735-0585-7 (cloth) $20.00, 0-7735-0586-5 (paper) $8.95. CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson

Volume 13 Number 6
1985 November

As 1985 marks the fortieth anniversary of the first detonation of an atomic weapon, the appearance of Malcolmson's book is most appropriate. With the world's having lived with THE BOMB for four decades, Malcolmson, who is with the department of history at Queen's University in Kingston, believes it is time to explode some of the myths surrounding the role this weapon has supposedly played in maintaining peace. Though nuclear weapons are in the arsenals of numerous nations, Malcolmson restricts his observations to the behaviours of the two superpowers, the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. Malcolmson argues that the principal fallacy of the nuclear arms race is the belief that the presence of these weapons has allowed the world to maintain peace through mutual deterrence. He claims that the constant escalation in weapons numbers and sophistication, a process prompted by the self-interests of the military-industrial complex, has, in fact, only made the peace more fragile. Throughout the work, Malcolmson interweaves his thoughts with numerous quotes from various authorities. In the last of the book's three sections, Malcolmson examines what the world must do to survive the threat of nuclear annihilation, and he calls for the U.S. to take the lead, unilaterally if necessary. A concluding eleven-page bibliographic essay serves as "A Guide to Further Reading."

In terms of balancing collections, the fact that Malcolmson frequently presents the Russian perspective on the issue of nuclear weapons makes the book an attractive potential addition; however, the book's writing style will challenge less able students.

Dave Jenkinson, Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Man.
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